Parental Substance Use as Child Abuse - Michigan

Date: July 2019

Citation: Comp. Laws § 722.623a 

A person who is required to report suspected child abuse or neglect and who knows, or from the child's symptoms has reasonable cause to suspect, that a newborn infant has any amount of alcohol, a controlled substance, or a metabolite of a controlled substance in his or her body shall report to the department in the same manner as required of other reports.

A report is not required under this section if the person knows that the alcohol, controlled substance, or metabolite, or the child's symptoms, are the result of medical treatment administered to the newborn infant or his or her mother.

Citation: Prot. Serv. Man. PSM 716-7

A complaint involving only substance use is insufficient for investigation or confirmation of child abuse or neglect. Parents may use legally or illegally obtained substances and prescribed medications to varying degrees and remain able to safely care for their children. Substance use and/or abuse by a parent/caregiver may be a risk factor for child maltreatment. When substance use by a parent/caregiver or another adult in the home is alleged, caseworkers must evaluate its impact on child safety.

Parental substance use or positive toxicology in a newborn does not in and of itself prove child abuse or neglect. A caseworker will need to determine if harm has occurred or is likely to occur, not simply if the child has been affected by or exposed to a substance. Parental substance use is a risk factor, not a determinant for case confirmation. Many children of parents who are dependent on substances will not experience abuse or neglect or suffer negative developmental outcomes. They may however be at an increased risk for maltreatment and entering the child welfare system.